I don’t want to be the person who expects a follow-back. Of course, when I follow someone I do have this faint hope that they might check out my profile and like it. Realistically, especially when the person of interest/admiration/adoration has a few thousand followers, noticing you while they’re navigating their fame-machine is like expecting to be noticed under the cover of darkness in an invisibility suit. It marks my insignificance with a big red squiggle*. As Ms Under50Followers, I once sent a tweet to Mr 5000 in the slim hope of a retweet or reply. Nothing. In his feed I noticed he’d sent a similarly hopeful tweet to Mr 950000 and he got nothing back either. It’s all relative isn’t it? We have this daft desire to seek acknowledgement from those we respect and Twitter gives us this false sense of being able to touch their lives. Sometimes, there are golden moments when we do.
I was ecstatic when I got my first follow-back. My ‘Yay!’ dissolved quite rapidly into an ‘Oh’ when I discovered he return-followed everyone. It’s like eating chocolate with a soft-centre of disappointment. I genuinely believed with delusional naivety (and yes, all those words are required to express the extent of my foolishness) that each follow meant something. No. Welcome to Twitter. On the upside, no matter how slight the possibility, one day he might accidently read my tweet and then read this. Just in case – Hello.
Then there are the Fishers. They always follow back, they always expect a return-follow and consider yourself unfollowed if you don’t comply with these conditions. One Fisher, even though I followed them first, went to the trouble of sending me a direct thankyou message and a return-follow, only to cull 90% of their fan-base once they’d reached one thousand hits. Conversely, there are a rare bunch of Fishers who honour their decision to follow you despite no return-follow. These are often talented unsponsored people trying to promote themselves and prove they are worthy to receive more of the next type of follower – the Enthusiast.
Enthusiasts (not to be confused with Stalkers) are the followers we all want. They read your tweets, read your blog, read your books, cook your recipes, listen to your music, watch you on TV, see your film, laugh at your jokes, marvel at your satire, hear your truth and if you’re not achieving any of those things on a large scale, they believe you could. They are the Twitter-folk that one day might allow you to earn some money.
Sometimes Fishers are also Enthusiasts and many Enthusiasts take the odd fishing trip. It’s inevitable. When Unknowns attempt to be heard over the noise of several hundred million other Unknowns, Twitter becomes a numbers game. I don’t know what kind of benefits a decent follower count yields, but I wonder, is a follow-back courteous if it is meaningless? Is any follow a good one?
My husband warned me against posting my Twitter observations. He said that I risked isolating myself from my (meagre number of) Twitter followers. But will I? If all I am to someone is a follow-back then they’re not reading this. If, however, you have come to this via Twitter you are an Enthusiast. Even if I’m unfollowed, you’re that person who takes the time to discover whether or not you like me.
I can follow that.
* I hope you misread that as ‘squirrel’ like I did on my read through. I may actually prefer my insignificance to be marked with a big red squirrel.